7 Fun and Educational Summer Outings for Kids

Kids look forward to summers replete with ice cream cones, lazy afternoons at the beach and outdoor summer concerts. Meanwhile, parents want to make sure they’re broadening their children’s minds and horizons during summer break. The solution? Sneak in some fun and educational enrichment activities designed to keep the mind growing. Here are seven we think are worth checking out.

 1. Chicago Botanic Garden

Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden offers a summer farmers market and cooking demonstrations by some of the area’s finest chefs. Take the kids to spend the day exploring the Garden’s hands-on science center, stopping by a cooking class, and learning about the summer harvest.

 2. Ethnic Neighborhoods Tour

Photo by Daniel Schwen

Take your children on a “stay-cation” through some of Chicago’s culturally rich and diverse neighborhoods. Explore the Indian spice markets and restaurants on Devon Avenue, visit the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen and walk through the Chinatown Gate for authentic cultural excursions right in the heart of the city.

 3. Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace inside and outside of the classroom. Set up your child with his or her own account, and the sky’s the limit with Khan’s engaging lessons about math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics and more.

4. Mathnasium

With a “we make math make sense” approach, enthusiastic high school- and college-aged teachers, and a system that rewards students with packs of gum and stuffed animals, Mathnasium has a unique ability to inspire students to achieve in math. Whether they are strong math students, or need some extra help, the Mathnasium centers can devise a personalized plan for each child. Both Highland Park and Kenilworth have franchises.

 5. Millennium Park Summer Concert Series

Photo courtesy of Millennium Park

Pack an evening picnic and head to Millennium Park for the free summer concert series, showcasing musical genres from Broadway to country to Latin beat. Don’t be surprised when your children pull you up to dance amidst the eclectic summer-loving crowd of concert-goers.

6. Public Libraries

Across the North Shore and in Chicago, public libraries offer summer reading programs. Children choose books to read, write reports and provide an oral summary to a kind librarian, earning tokens that can be redeemed for prizes such as a Dairy Queen ice cream cone or a trinket. Most libraries tweak their programs by age group.

 7. Wagner Farm

Photo courtesy of Glenview Park District

Wagner Farm, which is part of the Glenview Park District, is one of Cook County’s last working dairy farms. Filled with history and many learning activities, children can milk a cow, feed a chicken, tour a restored farmhouse, go on a hayride, step into a two-story silo, crank a silage machine and much more. Building blocks are available for the young kids to build their own miniature silos.

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